Hot Utility Tips for Home Buyers

by Judy King 10. August 2010 21:14
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It may seem at first glance that everything at Lake Chapala is just like back home  – after all we tout our groups and events that meet each month in English, the high speed internet, satellite service and grocery store filled to the rafters with imported items and a new mall with movie theater, Walmart and Domino’s Pizza are lined along the highway at the edge of town.

Don’t let your eyes fool you. Lakeside is a series of small Mexican villages – occupied mostly by…Mexicans. Expats are still less than 10% of the local population – yes, even in Ajijic! And our world revolves on a Mexican clock which functions thanks to a Mexican power company. We cook on gas stoves supplied by local delivery trucks and we answer phones with lines installed and maintained by the world’s richest man – Carlos Slim.

You’ll find that the common daily operating systems of all of these common utilities (along with the water, cable/satellite and cell phone service) have surprises for all newcomers.

Here’s a list of tips to give you a head’s up on some of the twists and turns that await those who live here.

  • When a buyer purchases a home or a renter moves from one house to another, the utilities are not turned off. Instead, the utilities (and taxes) are prorated fairly according to the amount of time each party is in the house.
  • Before making an offer on a home or signing a lease to rent a house, be sure to check the written inventory of goods that will remain in the house. Be absolutely certain that the stationary gas tank, the telephone line with number xxx-xxxx and the satellite system's dish, descrambler or tuner box(es), motor and other necessary equipment are specifically listed. It’s not good enough to say telephone and/or satellite dish.
  • At closing, the buyer receives copies of the current paid electric and telephone bills, letters to the electric and telephone companies transferring the accounts to the buyer and copies of the seller's identification papers so that the utilities can be put in the buyer’s name.
  • The buyer's broker withholds a small amount of money from the seller's final money until all of the outstanding utility bills have been received and prorated.

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  • The buyer must contract for their own new cable or satellite TV programming service.
  • The electric and phone bills must be paid on time, even if you don't receive them.
  • Because all homes use propane gas for cooking, clothes drying and most for water heating (a few have solar heaters) there is no regular bill. You must be home when the gas is delivered and you must pay for the gas in cash.
  • Even if your neighborhood or your house does not receive water, cable, electricity or telephone service for several days or weeks, you will not be eligible for a proportionate refund or credit on the bill.
  • Many newer homes have installed water pressure systems to move water through the house. When there's no electricity to power the pump, there is no water. Don't remove the tinaco (rooftop tank). Instead pipe the water through it with your pressure system, and have a valve so you could switch to gravity flow if necessary.
  • Because the electric company charges more per kilowatt hour as your usage climbs, you might be able to lower you bill by installing a second meter. Dividing the kilowatt hours just might do the trick.

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Mexican utility companies

Learning to maneuver through the maze of gas delivery, Telmex red tape and delays, CFE's complicated billing practices and paying your water bill annually takes some time, some Spanish and some patience.

These utility challenges is just one of the reasons we suggest that new residents at Lake Chapala rent first—the rental manager will pay your bills from a management account you set up in their office, along with your first and last rent and security deposit. With someone else paying your bills, you'll just need to remember to visit the office once a month to replenish the management account and pay the rent.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Living at Lake Chapala’s August Issue

by Judy King 1. August 2010 15:14

Wow, it’s the First Day of this year’s EIGHTH month! 
I can barely believe that this month marks the three-quarters mark of 2010. We are having another great year here at Living at Lake Chapala. In fact, nine members of our writing team has been out gathering information for our all new August issue. We've prepared a little bit of everything this month — take a look at this summary of our new articles.

image A Sailor Run Aground

Jim Tipton is introducing you to one of his very good friends in this month's Community Article. If you've not yet met Ken and Lise Clarke, you'll want to after you read about how this Lakeside couple met aboard ship and fell instantly head over heels in love. This is a love story with lasting power — when they reached dry land, they raised a family and then moved to Lakeside for retirement — and so Ken could write his story of the years at sea.

Mexico's Traditional Music

Mexico is a land of eternal music — it's part of the lifestyle — it's part of life. What's Mexico's most popular music? That, like most things in this land of contrasts, depends. There are those who would vote for orchestras playing classical music, or for classic rock and roll. More traditionally, you'd have a giant pile of votes for mariachi — that smooth blend of violins, guitars and trumpets. Earning just as much (or more) devotion from residents in central and northern Mexico would be the bandas — the groups of trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and percussion that play a type of music that sounds a little like a sharply uniformed military brass marching band colliding with The Six Fat Dutchmen Polka Band.


(Left:) A youthful group of musicians — a banda plays traditional music on the Ajijic plaza. (Right:) Bandas of all levels of fame and popularity perform in Lakeside's villages. This group came from a nearby town to play in an Ajijic club on July 17. The big name groups come to town for the annual fiesta and during mardi gras.

As Micki Wendt explains in this month's Out and About column, this isn't all about John Phillip Sousa, and it's not about Lawrence (a-one and a-two) Welk (but it helps if you were in your high school marching band and lived in the upper Midwest near a German or Polish population.) Banda music is a Mexican hybrid, and it's the love of the nation.

You may not think you know banda, but you've heard it — the bad, the ok, the good, and the really good. You're apt to hear it every time you pass a construction site or wait at a stop light behind a car with a throbbing stereo, or hear the marching band marching around town at 7 a.m. during fiesta. So far you've probably been more annoyed than in love, but give this article and the links to some professional videos a chance…you may be surprised!


Mexican banda members are snappy dressers. (Left:) This Chapala group was performing right outside the municipal building one evening — all in white and that shade of hot pink that here is called Rosa Mexicana. (Right:) Ajijic's Banda Incomparable was sporting new suits at last year's fiesta — their logo is embroidered on the back of the jackets.

Really Great Karma and  A Cookbook for a Cause

We're fixated this month on great food prepared by sets of Mexican sisters with great ideas and big hearts. First in the Mexican Kitchen, Harriet Hart is visiting a new restaurant on Calle Hidalgo in Ajijc which is owned and operated by Margarita and Rocio del Castillo. These vegetarian sisters recently moved from their home town — Guadalajara — and opened one of the cutest lunch spots in town — Buen Karma.

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Then former mental health professional Carol Bowman interviewed a trio of Guadalajara women — the Levy sisters — who have turned their skills in the kitchen into a cookbook (written in Spanish) and then turned the cookbook into a fundraising tool with proceeds going toward their pet project — a mental health center in Jalisco's capital city. You'll enjoy meeting the Levy sisters and learning about their favorite non-profit in this month's Health and Safety column.

The New Expat Radio Station for English Speakers

Then Judy is bringing you something very new — online radio for expats! Yep, Amigo Rodrigo is spinning American music on a 24-hour-a-day radio station — along with Mexican news and weather in English, Spanish vocabulary words and other specialty bits of information — and you can listen to it all on your computer. It couldn't be easier. Catch up with all of this in the Feature Article.

Back to School (Times Two) and Attending the Ballet 
What fun, we've devoted two slots this month to how foreigners at Lakeside get involved in the community, and take on some or all of the school expenses for slightly overwhelmed local families. While there are a dozen or more groups and organizations who are creating scholarships to pay the expenses so local kids can continue to attend classes — from Kinder through Grad School — our Cost of Living and Soul of Mexico columns tell how individuals are making a difference here at Lake Chapala.

First up Georgina Russell is back, this time in our Cost of Living slot explaining how she administers a fund for area kids. Who started this fund and this program? A trio of New York kids who were visiting their relatives at Lakeside! Now the US kids come back every year to see how the money they've raised in their home town and New York schools is being put to use here.


(Left:) One of the special joys of being a sponsor to a Lakeside student is being included in graduations, programs and special school events. (Right:) The ballet at Lake Chapala? You bet. And Scott Richards enjoyed it all – see his report in this month’s People, Places and Things.

Then long-time Lakeside resident, Phyllis Rauch explains how she and her late husband became involved in helping to educate the members of a family in their village of Nestipac. While Phyllis dreamed at first of "their kids" becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers, she reflects on how it's all worked out in real life and beautifully illustrates the Soul of Mexico piece with photos of her current (and we suspect her favorite) student Daniela.

Saving the Wild Orchids

Artist Janice Kimball delves into the world of Mexican wild orchids this month in our Homes and Lodging column. You'll enjoy her story of how she came to fall in love with these tender exotic beauties — years ago in the middle of an all-too-long Detroit winter. Now she's on a soapbox, helping us learn to protect the wild orchids from area mountains — and best of all she tells us where to find lovely, not-endangered, plants in local nurseries.


(Left:) These lavender beauties were once wild orchids in the Jalisco mountains above Lake Chapala. They've been blooming on a tree in Ajijic now for nearly 15 years. (Right:) Leave the wild orchids to bloom for another year in the mountains. Local nurseries have a lovely selection of hybrid orchids at very reasonable prices.

Planning for Singles

And to wrap up the issue, Judy is exploring some tips for singles living at Lakeside. It's just so important to form a support group and then finalize some of the necessary plans so that your friends will easily be able to help your children should you be recovering from illness or surgery and when you die. Look for this so very important information in the Getting Here space.

Are you a Living at Lake Chapala Subscriber?

That’s our rundown this month – and now, while you read these pieces we are already working on our Big Blowout Bicentennial Celebration for the September issue of Living at Lake Chapala. We’d love to have you become one of our family of subscribers and we’re betting you’ll love reading the very best online magazine about life in Mexico. Did we mention that subscribers have access to on-line support – we’re always here to answer your email questions! What a deal that is!


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

The Lessons I Learned While Buying Eggs

by Judy King 18. May 2010 08:12

clip_image001I was asked recently to relate some of the lessons I have learned living in Mexico. I think the questioner expected facts and figures, but I realized that I've learned to buy eggs.

You see, almost all Mexican grocery stores sell eggs by the kilo (2.25 pounds or about 15 eggs) and package them into plastic bags. While it’s easy to find eggs pre-packed into containers of a dozen these days, that’s not the way it was just a few years ago.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from buying eggs:

I've learned to accept buying un-refrigerated eggs
I’ve discovered that the eggs that sit out on the counter in the corner mom-and-pop stores and large megastores are often fresher than their dated, stamped and Styrofoam-protected cousins languishing in their pristine cartons in the north of the border grocery store coolers.

Buying un-refrigerated eggs has shown me that I could accept conditions and customs different than those I'd always known—and not only survive but learn to appreciate the differences.

I've learned to buy eggs by weight instead of by the dozen
I usually buy half a kilo of eggs—that's just over a pound – 6-8 eggs, depending on size. I can also choose to buy just one, or maybe two eggs at a time as do some of my elderly and not well-to-do neighbors.

Still buying eggs by the kilo was a hard lesson to accept. After all, my north-of-the-border head said, “Everyone knows that eggs should come by the dozen.”

After a while I came to understand that just because I've only known one way to do something, that doesn't make it the only right way to do it. North of the border, we buy eggs by the dozen. In Mexico we buy them by the kilo. I finally realized that it doesn't really matter as long as we can buy eggs.

clip_image002There’s also a price to pay for buying eggs by the dozen, pre-packed into protective cartons. The last time I checked, there was a $2-3 peso difference per dozen. That carton is costing consumers between 25-35 cents US—every time they buy 12 eggs!

Buying eggs the Mexico way has also become a lesson of gratitude for me. Now I always take a second to thank God for my blessings when I buy eggs. I'm thankful that I can afford to buy a half kilo, a kilo, a carton of 12 or a flat of 36 instead of carefully pondering if I can afford to buy one extra egg for tonight's supper.

I've learned how to carry eggs home in a plastic bag
Transporting eggs in a plastic bag is very different from carrying them home in a protective carton. This lesson forced me to learn a great deal of humility. Two four-year-old girls in my neighborhood can make it home from the corner store with their eggs in tact. Small bag boys—the same ones who put the rice and beans on top of my bananas and the milk carton on top of the fresh peaches know how to safely handle a plastic bag full of eggs.

As a reasonably intelligent woman, I was determined that I could also learn to accomplish this feat, thus only putting one more small plastic bag into the land fill instead of a Styrofoam box. (When I remember, I take my wire egg basket to the store and skip the plastic entirely.)

Here are some tips for carrying your eggs in a plastic bag:

  • Tie the top of the bag closed—firmly but not tightly—you don't want to squeeze those "hen fruits."
  • Do not carry the bag by the ends left after tying it shut. Not only is there not enough to hang on to, the weight of the eggs can crush the ones on the bottom.
  • Carry the bag using two hands, if at all possible. Cradle the bag on the palm of one hand and steady it with the other.
  • Pray

Then I thought about the other rewarding lessons that await learning here. Just think – if we can learn these things just buying eggs, who knows how wise we may become watching, listening, thinking, and learning as we continue living at Lake Chapala.


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

The Great Car Dilemna

by Judy King 25. April 2010 21:46

1956-Dodge-Royal-Lancer-red-black-ggr-2  I hate cars. I don’t like repairing them, dealing with their problems, buying them or selling them. In fact about the only thing I like is driving them. I’ve never been a car fan, lusting after specific makes or models.

I had a momentary childhood obsession with big finned black, white and red 1956 Dodge Royal that dr. Fee herded around the streets of town. Remember? They were tri-colored; mom liked the grey, pink and white that matched our new tweedy wallpaper and plaid slipcovers. Now that was a car. Then I felt a momentary warmth in high school for a friend’s 1962 white Impala with red interior.

Since then cars have meant transportation, nothing more – I liked them better if they were a decent color. Other than that, the only thing I require of a car is for it to be comfortable, start when I put the key in the slot and quit when I take the key back out. I’ve had a long relationship with my current vehicle, a 1996 Ford Windstar I bought in 1998 with 42,000 miles, and it’s given me barely a moment’s problem other than routine oil changes, a set of tires, replacing the shocks and struts, etc. through the ensuring 12 years and 60,000 miles.

Until…about a month ago when I was out in Jocotepec in the midst of one of the four-hour Lakeside overviews I occasionally do to help newly arrived folks get acquainted with the territory. My formerly well-behaved car stopped -- right in the middle of the street and wouldn’t go another foot.

Long story short - bystanders pushed it to the curb, I walked a couple of blocks to fetch a mechanic who called a cab to return my client and I to Ajijic while he towed the minivan to his shop – and what I assumed was the car equivalent of hospice care.

A day later, he called with the diagnosis. The bad news was I’d hit a rock or tope (speed bump) and lost all the oil. The good news was that engine is designed to shut down when there’s no oil, to prevent additional damage. The repairs were completed in two more days (the new oil pan had to come from Guadalajara). The entire bill was just over $100 US.

The long term prognosis, however, wasn’t good. There’s a lingering transmission problem. The cost of rebuilding that is estimated at about $1,000 – and that’s 1/3 to 1/2 of the value of the car and that doesn’t make sense to me, even though the interior is perfect, the tires good and the body just in need of a touchup in a few dozen spots. All those other mysterious systems will still be 14 years old.

So…I’m reluctantly car shopping. As I conduct the weekly Mexico Insights Newcomers Seminar, I outline the obvious and hidden costs of buying a Mexican-plated car and suggest strongly that they drive a US plated car to Lakeside. Now I’m facing these costs head on, and wondering where it’s best for me to buy a new car.

Here are some of the extra expenses involved when purchasing a Mexican-plated car:

1. Expect to pay 25% more for a car in Mexico as for the same car in the US. (Cars in the $7000 to 9000 range in the US are the peso equivalent of $8500 to $12,000 US here.

2. You may be expected to pay 15% IVA (sales tax).

3. You must pay Tenencia – that’s a road use tax that is 2.8% of the current value of the car paid annually for each of the first 10 years. Considering the low depreciation of cars here, that means that owners pay almost 25% of the new cost of the car in this tax during the first 10 years. (That cost soars to almost 75% for cars with a new value of $44,000 or more – so if you gotta have a Hummer or high end, fancy, smancy something, you pay for the luxury. A friend has a 2003 CR-V and paid about $300 US for this year’s Tenencia.

4. The process of converting the title to your name is $150 to $200 US

5. Annual licensing/registration is $30 to $50 US ($600 pesos).

6. Insurance is MUCH more expensive on Mexican-plated cars than on US or Canadian –plated cars -- approximately 2 to 3 times as much as for an equal US-plated car. Want a real example? When I put Mexican plates on my US Windstar (extenuating circumstances, don’t ask) the van was 10 years old and the insurance went from $220 US per year with Iowa plates to $650 US per year when we put the Mexican plates on it. Full coverage on the Windstar this year (she’s 14 years old) is still $350 US!

I toyed with the idea of searching for a car in Texas via the internet, taking the bus up, buying the car, and then driving back. If I wasn’t working -- editing both the Lake Chapala Review and Living at Lake Chapala and adding posts to the blog and conducting the weekly seminars and working on a special cross-cultural project, I’d do just that – and take time to visit family and friends in Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.

DSC01613Frankly, much as I’d like to see everyone, I’m not sure that the reduction in cost would be worth the time required for the trip, the stress of driving from Texas to Minnesota and back to Texas and then the 700 miles in Mexico. That trip would be great fun, but it would also eat up a good deal of the savings, real or perceived.

There May Be a Reason for the Lower Cost of US Cars

While the cars in the US are cheaper, they also have many more miles on the odometer and all of the liabilities that extra use implies. 2003-2005 Mexican cars seem to have 40,000 to 80,000 kilometers – that’s only 25,000 to 50,000 miles. The 5-7 year old US cars I’m seeing online have “normal milage” of 80-115,000 – that’s twice their Mexican counterparts. Plus there’s the winter road salt residue and rust issues.

My Worst Fear

I have another concern about buying an American-plated car. It’s scary to walk onto a strange car lot and shake hands with one of those happy guys in the plaid jacket that you see in the Used Car lot commercials on TV. I shudder when I think of saying to him, “I want a used car. Can you do the paperwork fast so I can head back home to Mexico.” I have visions of Buddy calling his brother-in-law on the intercom: “Hey there Billy Bob, bring up that lemon, a… er, that nice car we’ve been saving from there in the back row.”

SO What to do…

The Windstar’s transmission is still perking along, more or less ok, a car genius friend is looking through the semi-nuevos (almost new or used cars) in Guadalajara. The problem at the moment seems that the domino effect of last year’s weakened economy means that fewer folks in Mexico’s second largest city are trading cars in on newer and better ones. One of these days he’ll find a good one, and I’ll make the purchase. I’ll settle for almost anything that is high enough to make it over the topes, has a decent back seat. A CR-V or Ford Escape might be good – as long as it isn’t beige.

(The cars in this blog? The photo of that 1956 Dodge Lancer just like Dr. Fee’s beauty. I spotted that hot pink limo in the Guadalajara airport parking lot a couple years ago. I wonder who they were picking up. The mind boggles. The perfectly restored Cadillac El Dorado convertible parked at the Real De Chapala Hotel  had just delivered the bride and groom to their reception.)


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

Forget Using MC, Visa, & Checks: This is a Cash Society

by Judy King 31. March 2010 09:17

bxp37878 We Use Cash – Pesos – at Lake Chapala
Forget the checkbook and get over the credit cards. You'll want to get used to using cash (pesos) when you are here at Lake Chapala. Once you get past the border, goods are priced in pesos, and most businesses refuse credit cards, traveler's checks and dollars (either US or Canadian.) They just take pesos.

Payment for almost everything here (gasoline, groceries, restaurant meals, purchases, and even telephone and electric bills and maybe even your hotel) is in pesos – cold, hard cash still changes from hand to hand.

Paying Workers

Our maids, gardeners, mechanics, carpenters, construction workers and most other Mexican workers all are paid in cash. Few have bank accounts in which they could deposit our checks. Also know that most Mexican banks won't accept a US check for deposit; those that do put a two to three month hold on the funds.

Consider this: if I did pay my maid (or another worker) with a peso check written on a Mexican bank account, she would have to find the time and pay the bus fare to go to Chapala, stand in line at the bank and then ride the bus back home. No wonder she wants cash payment!

detail-of-mexican-pesos-~-AA007426 Shopping

Most shops, stores and supermarkets require payment in cash. Some stores that can accept credit cards will give the customer a discount for using cash.

Utilities

We can't mail our utility bills to the office with a check enclosed. We go to the phone company, the cable company and the electric company (or other payment center including Walmart) to pay those utility bills in cash. We pay the propane delivery man when he is at our house refilling the stationary tank or delivering full cylinders. 

Rent

While some renters can write a dollar check on their back home bank account for their monthly rent, they'll find that the rest of the month the checkbook just gathers dust, along with their credit cards.

Getting All that Cash

So, now that you are convinced that you’ll be using pesos instead of checks or credit cards, how do you keep your pockets filled with cash?

Using the ATM

At first, you’ll use your ATM Card. There several cash machines in the area now, here’s a list of some of the locations:

  • Ajijic -- The bank on the plaza, Farmacia Guadalajara, Plaza Bugambilias, MultiVa, El Torito.
  • San Antonio – Walmart, Domino’s Pizza parking lot, SuperLake grocery store
  • Chapala – In all banks, Soriana
  • Jocotepec – Banks, Farmacia Guadalajara

Remember that what with the extra demand from Mexican tourists on weekends, especially on holiday weekends, and because several larger area businesses pay their employees via ATM cards to avoid having a large cash payroll, machines are sometimes empty quickly or not able to connect electronically with your bank.

Some full time residents prefer to avoid the ATM fees (both on the machine here and/or  those from the bank back home) or the chance of a machine malfunctioning and either “eating” the card or failing to dispense the correct amount of money, they look for alternate methods of obtaining cash for daily use.

mexican-pesos-notes-and-coins-close-up-~-74226437 Other Options

Some residents open accounts in local banks and at Lloyd’s from which they can draw pesos. In either case a rather large amount of money must be deposited into your account so you can cover the checks you deposit to replenish the account. Local banks and some investment companies put holds of 30 to 90 days on US dollar checks and other requirements and procedures that make getting cash a time-consuming process.

The Convenience of Intercam

Later you may want to do what we have -- open an account at Intercam (the office is on the highway in Ajijic next to the OXXO). Once you’ve provided the company with copies of the required documents (passport, immigration document, lease or deed and utility bill) and a single deposit into a savings account, you can write checks at the office on your back home US dollar bank account and receive cash on the spot – no muss, no fuss, no holds, just exchanging a dollar check for pesos.

Keep a Stash of Cash

When cash is your only option, you’ll find you’ll want to keep more than a petty cash stash. We recommend you keep enough cash for a week or two of living expenses tucked away at home so that if you are fighting a bout of bronchitis you’ll have enough to  send a neighbor for medicine and pay the maid and gardener. 

Where to keep larger amounts of money? You may choose to have a simple lock installed in the top drawer of a heavy piece of furniture, slip it into a select box in the pantry or freezer, or tuck it into the toes of your good shoes in the back corner of the closet.

Installing a Safe

Just like north of the border, some folks here choose to install a small safe in a secure location. A safe that bolts to a shelf or can be cemented into a wall is the best location. We’ve found that floor safes installed in the back corner of the closet may not be discovered, they also are not easy to use. Folks wearing bifocals find that it’s hard to get the dial into focus, that they are blocking the small amount of light that makes it way into the far reaches of the closet and that it gets more and more difficult to get up and down to access the safe. As a result they just don’t use it as much as they should. 


Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at www.mexico-insights.com, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.

About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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